Who Needs Immigrant Labor When You Have Prison Inmates?


Now that the country’s most restrictive anti-immigration law has been enacted in Alabama, a large portion of the Hispanic community has disappeared from the streets, afraid to leave their homes for work or school.

One of the impetuses behind the bill was the notion that somehow the undocumented laborers were “stealing” all of the jobs in the state, with farms and other businesses hiring them for near slave wages rather than pay minimum wage to legal workers.  With the pool of sub-minimum wage workers gone, the jobs are open and up for grabs, and should put many legal, unemployed Alabamans back to work, right?

Wrong.  Having no interest in losing such cheap labor, many are looking for another way to get the job done without increasing their own expenses.

They’re turning to prison inmates.  And it has the blessing of the government.

According to Politico, John McMillan, commissioner of the Alabama Dept. of Agriculture and Industries, is  encouraging the state’s farmers to obtain cheap labor through the state’s worker release program, offering “a short-term solution to the sudden labor shortage that has hit Alabama since enforcement of its illegal immigration law kicked in.”  Which means that once more the jobs that regular citizens are being promised were an illusion created to get buy in to push their own agenda — in this case making the state inhospitable to undocumented immigrants.

But in a way it makes perfect sense. Destroy the economy. Lay off workers. Create no new jobs but low wage ones, and let people go into debt trying to care for their families. Once they no longer have any way to pay all of their bills, we can go back to putting people in “debtor’s prison.”

After all, we’ll have plenty of jobs available for the prison workforce if we get the undocumented immigrants out of them. And this way, we won’t have to cut into anyone’s profits to pay living wages.


Related Stories:

Alabama Immigration Law Upheld, Supreme Court Intervention Likely

Latino Families Fleeing Alabama In Droves

Photo by Olek Remesz via Wikimedia Commons


W. C
W. C11 months ago


William C
William C11 months ago

Thank you.

Stephan B.
Stephan B6 years ago

Having taught basic English and reading to inmates as a literacy volunteer, I feel qualified to say prisoners need to be active and better educated, whatever the trade or labor. Education has to be part of rehabilitation or they are unprepared when set loose. The United States has the highest rate of incarceration and recidivism, and much of this is we are not enlightened as a society as we think; in fact we are quite Draconian.

The babysitting in the prisons is not unlike what is happening in our high schools. Diplomas for attendance for Federal Grants. Learning while there is actually optional. Not quite so in the prisons, but the States are re-reimbursed for the bed count in lieu of desks.

High schools are graduating teens with no basic living skills, mostly minimal communication skills and no blue print for going forward in either education or society. So crime is attractive for its stupid simplicity.

Shame on all of us, particularly those who choose those who shirk the responsibilities of their positions in these systems.

Mary Vaughn
Mary Vaughn6 years ago

This is not a new thing in Al.. The poultry industry there has been using prison labor for years. The only reason there are any protests about the illegals here is because it might raise the cost of produce here which is already super expensive. Most of the people in AL. are of the Tea Bag mentality.

Bruce S.
Bruce S6 years ago

The writer of this story presents a wonderful choice. Either allow illegal aliens to continue to work and come here illegally or, use prison labor. NEITHER CHOICE APPEALS TO ME.

Jen Kae
Jen Kae6 years ago

Has anyone ever noticed that abortion has gotten more negative press than Andrea Yates and Susan Smith combined, and to any right thinker, what they did was MUCH MUCH MUCH worse. What is this world coming to?

christopher murray

Alabama, in most respects, still fighting the Civil War.

My friend left Mobile, Ala, after relocating there (he went to Arizona) mainly because the city is still clinging to the doctrine of the Klan, and it refuses to let it go. Not shocked at all by this turn of events in Alabama.

Fact is we are all decendants of illegal immigrants..unless you can prove you're Native American Indian...then this really is your land. If you're a decendant from those who came over on the mayflower..guess what, you're the product of immigrants....so maybe you shouldn't be so happy to kick out other immigrants.

Jen Kae
Jen Kae6 years ago

IF you don't believe in abortions for yourself, at least, PLEASE allow a woman who will die without one a fighting chance. Please write or call your Senators today. We have
just a few days left before we lose our right to protect our own bodies.

I really don't believe that ANY American wants someone else regulating our choices. That's why we left England, isn't it?

99 out of 100 US Senators just received a letter from me. One website rejected me because I am not a resident of that state. It only took a little while to send it. I even had time to go out for a nice lunch and work my business.

IF I CAN DO IT, SO CAN YOU, just go to:
www.senate.gov/general/contact_ information/senators_cfm.cfm
and follow the steps to send your message.

(You can find the most recent comments on this horrific bill on Care2 at House Passes Let Women Die Act. I don't know if you need all the lines and stuff... I know nothing about that stuff. I do know that if you type "House Passes Let Women Die Act" into the Care2 search you will get there. Remember, we have less than a week to write letters and make phone calls to our Senators to stop this horrible bill from passing).

Jen Kae
Jen Kae6 years ago

8:04AM PDT on Oct 14, 2011

Sorry to go off topic, if we really want to talk about unacceptable, the US House of Representatives just passed a bill that would windup killing a lot of loving women who have health issues related to a pregnancy. While I acknowlege that a lot of women use abortion instead of birth control, and that IS irresponsible sex, and many have an abortion for a really stupid reason like "I just don't want it. I want to party" I find those reasons unacceptable. But, the bill that just passed proposes to pay hospitals extra federal money to turn away ANY WOMAN WHO WANTS AN ABORTION, EVEN IF SHE WILL DIE WITHOUT IT. That is just as unacceptable. If the woman dies, who is going to take care of the baby? It will die within minutes of her death, unless it is put on life support and believe me, nobody is going to foot the bill for life support until it can be adopted. WE HAVE 1 WEEK TO GET A TOTAL of 65 SENATORS to vote against this bill. Consider that a better one might be allowing abortions, ONLY IF THERE IS A CERTIFICATION FROM A DOCTOR OR LAW OFFICER THAT IT IS MEDICALLY OR RAPE NECESSARY. Please support the women who are responsible with their bodies.

Stephan B.
Stephan B6 years ago

Since we are living our version of the last days of Rome, why don't we fire the over paid, unfit role models,professional athletes, and turn the already stand network of Colosseums? We can give the most violent perpetrators what they want, violence, and satiate their need for it. They lift weights eight hours a day, might at well use it here before they are released on a suspecting society. Enough of them will sign up; you don't have to draft them.

It is not as if their interim at a penal facility looks good on their resume, and the job market is laborers is already overpopulated with those who will not find work and they will have to try their hand at crime. That is where the job openings are still available, crime.

Believe me, you would not turn away from the spectacle.